Green light for view blocker

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Planning commissioners have given the go-ahead to a controversial car showroom and garage beside Frankton homes – despite it not complying. 

The planned 2504sq m GWD Russell building, between Lucas Place and suburban Robertson Street, is on airport mixed-use land which doesn’t allow car sales as of right. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council commissioners David Clarke and Leigh Overton, in their decision issued this month, say the non-complying business would have fewer adverse effects than complying activities. 

“A complying 9m-high building at the required 10m setback would generate more adverse shading,” their decision says. 

“We accept that a degree of amenity that has been enjoyed by some Robertson St residents will be lost. 

“Any built development on the site, even of a single storey nature, would block views and reduce amenity. 

“The building’s design has taken this into consideration and has tried to be respectful in terms of design, broken-up form, variety in heights, variety in materials and landscaping.” 

The commissioners also note some of the lowest building elevations – at 6m and 6.5m – are on the Robertson St facade. 

Gutted neighbour John Hamilton says “the whole street objected”. 

“It totally blocks our view – we currently look out over Coronet Peak, Crowne Range and everything else, but we will end up looking at a big concrete wall. 

“We’re in a low-density residential area but it will be more akin to [industrial-zoned] Glenda Drive. 

“It will drop the value of our houses.” 

Hamilton says the neighbours accept the land’s zoning allows for a view-blocking building. 

But he is upset that the commissioners have allowed it be built only five metres, rather than the permitted 10m, from the boundary, “which makes a mockery of the rules”. 

The commissioners’ decision points out the site’s had its zoning since 1995. 

“Although the process at the time may not have been very well managed,” they concede.

Neighbours had been “used to having a de facto open space reserve across the road from them”, the commissioners state. 

The commissioners also note QLDC’s urban design panel congratulated Arrowtown architect Anna-Marie Chin, from Crossan Clarke Carnachan Chin Architects, on developing a “superior design”. 

Alastair Porter, developer of the adjacent Remarkables Park Town Centre, sold the land to GWD Russell owner Graeme Hill a year ago. 

“If we were building a [complying] Milford bus-servicing depot, which was an option we looked at, you would have done a very much bigger, obviously plainer building, which would have had much more effect on the neighbours,” Porter says. 

“We genuinely felt we were doing the neighbours a favour.” 

Porter is disappointed GWD Russell faced a year of costs and delays. 

“It has two costs. 

“We don’t get paid until they get their resource consent but more to the point, it’s construction work the district could have had – a year’s salaries and wages for probably about 20 people.” 

The building will be across a roundabout from the nearly-completed Queenstown Motor Group car dealership.